Lily Konigsberg has made a name for herself as a member of the beloved New York art rock band Palberta and one-half of the pop duo My Idea. Today, her debut solo record Lily We Need To Talk Now is out on Wharf Cat, so to celebrate, she’s sharing with us some of the songs that inspired it.
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music
Sixpence None the Richer — “Kiss Me”
This song has always been a favorite of mine. It has all the good stuff: sweeping 12-string guitar, expressive beautiful voice, great verse, great chorus. It’s honestly a perfect song. I often use the teenage ‘90s movie aesthetic in my pop songs, and this just becomes more pronounced as I’ve grown as a writer. I hear the influence of this song most prominently in “Sweat Forever.” Because I am Lily, it is impossible for the lyrics to come out as rosy and romantic as in songs like “Kiss Me,” so I always end up making songs that sonically relate to those perfect ‘90s/ early 2000s bangers, but with lyrics that catch even myself off guard. There is a darkness to my lyricism that can be overlooked if the listener isn’t paying attention.
Arthur Russell — “This Is How We Walk on The Moon”
Here is an example of Arthur Russell’s classic, eclectic grooves that change in dynamics frequently, yet remain in his control. He can add millions of elements to a song, yet it never comes off as excessive. As a listener, I appreciate his desire to go in so many directions at once. I don’t know how he does it so expertly, but I do see myself heading a bit more in that direction with the song “Hark.” The bass is completely off, yet also completely on, the synth and horns come in sporadically, and vocals play off these rhythms in a way that seems random but is completely logical. While it may strike the listener as a strange song because of the grouping of various, seemingly unrelated elements, it ends up achieving a cohesivity — it doesn’t do too much. Sidenote: I quote Arthur in “Hark” — “Hey, there’s a letter for you downstairs can I read it too,” from his song “The Letter.”
Liz Phair — “Fuck and Run”
Liz is my idol, my inspiration, my greater power. I have asked her to notice me an embarrassing number of times on Instagram. I recently covered her song “Ride” for a spoooooky Halloween compilation. That song bangs. What I admire most about Liz is her melodic sense and her daring lyricism. “Fuck and Run” is a seriously vulnerable song. She leaves nothing out, and that’s what makes her so relatable. I hear Liz in my song “That’s the Way I Like It.” Melodically, I can see that it’s inspired by her. I can even hear her singing it in my head! (Please Liz, please cover “That’s the Way I Like It,” I’ll show you my cover of “Ride”… maybe we can have coffee or something). Sorry, I had to beg Liz again. Back to the actual topic: I see myself emulating Liz’s straight forward, vulnerable, concise lyricism a couple of times in this album, but most obviously in this song.
Kanye West ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR — “Ghost Town”
I know Kanye is a polarizing topic, but I freaking love this dude (as an artist). I would argue that he Is the biggest musical genius in the last couple of decades. I believe that. I love his production, his lyricism, his collage-style of including so many new artists into his music. He is a true artist. I hear Kanye in my self-quoting within this album. I reference things I’ve written before and bring it back to the forefront or hide it so no one can find it. I love that Kanye does that. It’s something I naturally do, but I’m glad to share it with him. But, as someone said on SNL or something, “Take em!”, referring to his Lexapro. He famously rapped, “You don’t wanna see me off my Lexapro,” and then he stopped taking it and started wearing MAGA hats. So yeah, hopefully that phase is over and maybe he’s on his Lexapro again. I write this as someone on Zoloft and Prozac, so I know how scary it can get, Kanye. I would be remiss to not mention the amazing PARTYNEXTDOOR on this track. Such a beautiful outro to the song, makes me cry almost every time.
Machine Gun Kelly – “Forget Me Too”
Listen, MGK made one good album and the stuff before and after (so far) is shit. Tickets to My Downfall is just a great album. We got Travis Barker on the kit and we have amazing pop-punk songs that are just perfectly formulated. I was directly inspired by this album and “Forget Me Too” in particular when I wrote “Bad Boy.” It came out way less pop-punk and way more grunge, but hey, it was my first attempt, and I am pretty satisfied with it. The content in the two songs is strangely similar as well.
Fountains of Wayne — “Stacy’s Mom”
I didn’t know this when I wrote “Proud Home,” but it bears a resemblance to “Stacy’s Mom.” Mostly in that both songs reference hot moms. Later in life, when COVID first hit, Adam Schlesinger, the writer behind “Stacy’s Mom” passed away from complications. After learning this, the song became a tribute to the great pop genius, Adam.
Avril Lavigne — “Together”
This one is simple. I have loved Avril since age 11. Her music often references heartbreak and getting through it. In this song she sings, “Together doesn’t feel right at all, together we built a wall,” and this resonates with me and the emotions I was going through while writing what turned out to be a major breakup album. In “Bad Boy,” I write, “Was it something I did was it something I said, or was it something much larger than we can comprehend… Was it me or was it you?” It’s the wondering, confusing feeling of why does “together” not work. Avril, thanks for being there for me in my pain on and off for 17 years.
Elliott Smith — “First Timer”
I spent four years of my life listening to nothing but Elliott Smith. I missed all pop-culture during that time. I become unhealthily obsessed. Sometimes it’s hard for me to listen to him because I listened so much and he makes me so sad. He passed in 2003, just when I was really getting into his music. Even though it’s not obvious in my songwriting, I believe he influences me in a lot of ways. I hear him in “Don’t Be Lazy With Me,” “Goodbye,” and “Roses, Again.” He informed so much of my songwriting and taught me it’s OK to write about being sad in a real way. Luckily, I am not as sad as he was. I wish he was still here but since he’s not, RIP my man.
(Photo Credit: Felix Walworth)